How to be a Minimalist When Your Partner Isn’t

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Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Meaning it is a personal decision you make on your own. And by making it, you’re likely to come up against some people who don’t understand your decision, don’t take it seriously, or outright are against it (though I’m not sure what it is to them). But what can make the road to minimalism particularly challenging is if you choose to be a minimalist when your partner isn’t.

So, if you and your partner have made different life choices regarding minimalism and you’re looking to make the complicated situation of living with someone who isn’t embarking on your minimalist adventure, we have some tips for you:

Deciding to live a minimalist lifestyle is a personal choice. You can decide to be a minimalist when your partner isn’t, and it’s completely okay if they decide not to share your viewpoints.

It’s fair game to talk about your minimalist lifestyle, share your plans and goals, and discuss why you’re making your decision — but don’t try to convince anyone. And don’t lecture. Chances are your convincing will go nowhere positive, and you’ll accomplish nothing more than being a broken record to your partner. Convince through your actions by being respectful and showing a happier, freer you with less stuff.

And most importantly, purge only your stuff. Don’t purge your partner’s stuff without asking and stay away from shared territory until you’ve discussed it together.

Speaking of shared territory, if you’ve decided to become a minimalist when your partner isn’t, you’ll need to figure out what to do with your shared space. This is a decision you have to make together.

Organize your common space — kitchen, living room, bathroom — in a way that you both agree. And set some rules for your space. Perhaps you both agree to ensure the garbage is taken out once daily, all the dishes in the sink are washed before the next meal is prepared, or the laundry is done and folded once a week. Whatever rules work best for both of you.

Stuff is just stuff. Don’t let it be a thorn in your relationship.

As a minimalist when your partner isn’t, it’s incredibly important to remember that though you decided to be a minimalist your partner did not. Nor do they have to. And just like you expect them to respect your decision, you need to respect theirs.

Part of respecting that decision is not letting stuff get wedged between you (literally and figuratively). Your partner and loved ones matter, so as much as being a minimalist is important to you being 50 percent is better than zero.

If you’re working towards being a minimalist when your partner isn’t, space permitting it might be a good idea for you to each have your own space in your house where you can each “hangout” on your own.

This is really a two-birds-one-stone kind of deal because having your own space goes a long way when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship. Separate isn’t necessarily bad, and when you’re working towards a minimalist goal it’s nice to have space to openly practice it!

Being a minimalist is your end goal. So even if you’re trying to be a minimalist and your partner isn’t — don’t give up on your goal. It’s not going to be easy at all times, and chances are that it’ll be a little harder without your partner’s direct support.

But keep your eye on the prize and work at it every day. Any goal worth accomplishing is worth working hard for.

Do you and your partner have different views on minimalism? Share your tips on managing expectations in the comments below!

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